Updated: Sep 28, 2020
I was speaking to a close friend yesterday about mental health issues and an experience she was having with someone who isn't very experienced at managing her own. Our conversation moved onto talking about how her (my friend) & I both have a very good awareness of our own mental states due to years of.. practice I guess we can call it.
It got me thinking because I realised how bang on the money she was.
For a good few years now my emotional state of being has been a point of focus, and I've developed a key awareness to when I'm on the edge of a breakdown or maybe less extremely, just not doing very well. I've spent a lot of time tuning into my body & the types of reactions I have, moods that dominate, behaviours I allow to manifest and general state of contentment. And by taking the time to notice these different things, and beyond simply noticing them, evaluating and reflecting upon them, i've grown to be quite an emotionally-aware being.
I think it's a journey every one of us needs to embark upon. And no there isn't an end destination really, just the continuous aim of improving the quality of our own lives.
What this awareness enables is the ability to verbalise and express where we are. To be honest with the people in our lives about how we're feeling and what might be going wrong. When we allow ourselves to accept honestly exactly where we are, even if it will change next week, we give ourselves an opportunity to empower ourselves; to be courageous and to grow. We need to become vulnerable to our emotions and work hard at simply allowing them to exist, rather than hating on ourselves for not feeling as we've decided we 'should,' and in that process lies a wealth of knowledge about who we are we will be so grateful to have discovered.
It isn't something that happens overnight; it took me consistently failing year after year to really get to know myself. It took a lot of fuck-ups and a countless amount of self-destruction before I realised that I deserved better from myself.
Photo credit: Sam North
Location: Craggy Range Winery
Getting to know yourself is one of the most beautiful and inspiring and above all, addictive experiences you will ever enjoy, and I urge you with all that I have that whether you've taken the first step, or feel like you're part way through, to just remember that there is nothing greater than being comfortable, confident and content with who you are as a person. The portal to that is knowing yourself and loving yourself - in your entirety.
It's uncommon I think in our world to think about 'getting to know yourself' as a process, rather than just the default. Getting to know ourselves isn't viewed in the same way we would view getting to know someone else, which is baffling considering the greatest relationship we will ever have is with ourselves. And that is a separate entity - the you consciously thinking about knowing yourself and who you are. Just because you are yourself, doesn't mean you know yourself.
When we meet someone new (and even people we've been close to for years) there are so many things we don't know about them. As a result, we strive to learn and to figure out what makes them tick; we tune in to the things they like or dislike; we pay attention to the things or words that seem to influence their mood or emotions. We genuinely take time to learn about what makes them happy and how we can add to their happiness because we care for them.
But let me ask you something - how often do you do that for yourself? Have you ever stopped and given any attention to what it is that actually makes you happy, or makes you feel most like yourself? And even if you have, do you then prioritise those things and make sure that your life is filled with what makes you feel good? Or do you continue on in the same old ways that might not actually be bringing you any peace?
I think that's an important part of the journey. We need to accept that simply because we are ourselves, doesn't mean we know ourselves. It's not a given, even though it sounds like it should be.
When we choose to embrace that mindset and allow ourselves to start from the very beginning, we give ourselves the chance to really and truly connect with ourselves. And the reason that is so important is so that we can develop a genuine and beautiful relationship with who we really are. We can begin to push things out like lack of self-esteem or worth, insecurity, self-doubt and self-sabotage because as we fill up the space with feel-good connections and thoughts towards ourselves that it leaves no room for any of the other crap.
It can feel like the hardest thing in the world to do, especially when we find ourselves perhaps wandering towards the cliff-edge of a burn-out or trapped in a high-anxiety phase, but I hope you know that regardless of your current emotional state, choosing to prioritise yourself in this way is actually never too far from becoming a reality - you just have to make the decision right now, even if you never have before.
The last few weeks have been a crazy whirlwind for me; a lot of big decisions in a small amount of time, a lot of change & adjustment, combined with the fact my mind won't seem to switch off even when i'm asleep and the fact that i'm due on my period next week means that I'm a little bit of an emotionally unstable crybaby right now... and that's okay. That's just life sometimes, we're always going to go through phases that challenge us and being in a position where you can recognise how you're doing and take action inspired by that, is the only thing you need to worry about.
So tonight I knew that I needed to truly find some stillness, and luckily the work i've put into myself over the last 5 years really comes in handy in these moments.
I had a hot shower (we don't have a bath in our flat and it's my greatest heartbreak..), put my bed heater on (my favourite thing in the world in case you were wondering), dried my hair, lit my candles, lit my incense, got myself a glass of water, snuggled into bed & opened up this blank page.
I know how to find stillness. I know what my soul craves when life moves too fast, and I choose myself and my needs when this anxious energy arises & I fully surrender to doing what I know will help me through it.
I already feel better than I have this week as a result of just 30 minutes in an environment that calms me and reconnects me with practices and feelings that reset my emotional levels.
Our wellbeing isn't something to jeopardise. Take as many baths, as many long walks or car singing sessions, all the tea (or wine) that you need until you begin to feel that big sigh leaving your body - you know the one where you can literally feel the stress and the worry leave you? Yeah. Let your breath take away all of that away, and give yourself the time you need to slow down the pace of all that is manifesting in your life. Choose to look after yourself, and in the process, simply enjoy getting to know who you are.
I promise no time or monetary investment into yourself in this way will ever be wasted.
I hope you find some stillness. And don't forget to lean on your loved ones when you need a little support, or just a good cry. The people who love you will never leave you - be strong enough in yourself to seek out help when you need it. That is literally the whole point of having human connection so fully embrace it with an open heart & inspired mind.
Some of my happy people, places & experiences that I rely on & remind myself of when I need to